As Hotel News Now celebrates its 10th anniversary, we look back on what makes us tick as we revisit key stories, trends and data points that made headlines.
Ten years. 14,000-plus articles. And growing.
When STR launched Hotel News Now during the early days of the Great Recession on 17 September 2008, our goals and milestones were pretty short-term: establishing networks of sources, reporters and readers. The early days were focused on launching a digital platform that gave global hoteliers a place to learn about the latest news, trends and data points affecting them and their businesses.
In the 3,652 days that have since passed, we’re pressing on with that mission—and then some.
I’m just now understanding what my dearly departed mother, LaVinia, meant when she repeatedly reminded me that time seems to go faster as you age. That’s definitely the case with HNN. It seems like yesterday that we were writing articles about steps hoteliers needed to take to survive the precipitous performance drop that came along with the global economic meltdown in 2008. Ironically, we’re seeing some of the same type of articles appear now as hoteliers are leery of another downturn occurring sooner than later.
The introduction of HNN a decade ago ended a six-month incubation period that included a few stops and starts, due to unforeseen issues that are common when you’re learning on the fly.
Back then, about 25% of the world’s population used the internet—it’s more than double that today, according to Internet World Stats. Most of that usage was in the form of desktop devices as mobile phone usage also was about half of what it is today, according to Statista.
Our knowledge has also grown by leaps and bounds since then in a never-ending quest to deliver timely information on a user-friendly platform.
HNN’s place in the industry gained steam early on because of its immediacy. A 24-hour news cycle is now the norm; in 2008, it was in its infancy online. To put that in perspective, HNN was launched the same year Airbnb was founded, and only one year after the iPhone was introduced.
Originally pitched as “STARcast,” it became “Hotel Pulse” for a short time during the incubation period. We settled on its current name in July 2008, when STR co-founder and executive chairman Randy Smith asked: “What is it that you’re trying to do with this?”
The simple reply was, “We want to provide hotel news, now.”
Smith’s response: “Well, I guess you have your name.”
It took a bit of time for the name to grow on me, but it did, and what now is often simply called HNN has found a niche in the market.
We’ve had a number of outstanding journalists on our staff throughout the last decade, and the current editorial team is second to none. These journalists include: Stacey Higgins; Patrick Mayock; Shawn Turner; Alissa Ponchione; Alicia Hoisington; Samantha Worgull; Ed Watkins; Stephanie Wharton; Jason Freed; Terence Baker; Stephanie Ricca; Robert McCune; Sean McCracken; Bryan Wroten; Danielle Hess; Dan Kubacki; and Dana Miller. On the design side, it’s been Jon Edwards, Annamarie Hudson, and Rachel Daub.
From the outset, the idea was to focus on the content rather than advertising—but we are a business, and advertising is part of our appeal as many marketers are looking to get their messages in front of our readers. Lynsie Bennett has spearheaded that effort since 2009 with support from Elyse Carfrey, Kye Butler and Bayleigh Stetzer.
Our pledge is to continue to provide timely, useful and concise information that helps hoteliers stay on top of the industry and their businesses.
Our focus has been global from the start; although we do tend to lean toward more U.S.-oriented news because it represents such a huge portion of the 16 million-plus (and growing) hotel rooms in the world.
Our editorial philosophy has remained consistent:
- We focus entirely on hoteliers—those who own, operate, develop or brand hotels. (We don’t cover vendors/suppliers, consultants, brokers and all the other fine people that service and/or advise hoteliers.)
- We exhaust all efforts to tell both sides of a story. (There’s not much we can do if one side of the story doesn’t want to go on the record, but we absolutely, without fail, ask them to tell it.)
- We don’t use anonymous sources in our reporting. Integrity and trust are at stake.
HNN’s goal from the beginning was to launch a daily newsletter to enhance the website. It took off pretty quickly. I remember hitting 500 visitors a day to the site—it was a big deal at that time!—and having it grow from there. We now attract about 5,000 visitors a day. Much of that is driven by our Daily Update newsletter, which has more than 40,000 subscribers. We also have our Tech Impact Report and Independent Insights newsletters that attract unique readers and subscribers.
During the next 10 weeks, the HNN team will look back on stories and topics that have chronicled what has shaped the industry and HNN over the past 10 years. We invite you to take a stroll down memory lane while also staying up to date on the news and trends affecting your business today and in the future.
Thank you for making HNN your resource for news and trends that affect your bottom line. Thanks to all of the sources who have shared their viewpoints and info with us, the readers who have encouraged us and the advertisers who have supported HNN. Without each of you, we wouldn’t have had these 10 years to reflect on.
The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.